In the aftermath of the #MeToo movement, Hollywood has taken notice, with much more of an emphasis not only on female filmmakers but female characters —Supergirl, we’re talking to you — as well. In the world of superheroes, Marvel has certainly made great strides with the likes of Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow in various Avengers films, Zoe Saldana as Gamorra in Guardians of the Galaxy, Evangeline Lilly as Hope van Dyne, aka Wasp, in Ant-Man and the Wasp; and next year’s Captain Marvel, starring Brie Larson in the title role. And over at DC, there has been Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman, the sequel to which is filming now, and, of course, Supergirl, who will be starring in a new movie.
Supergirl was created in 1959 by writer Otto Binder and artist Al Plastino. Journalist Louis Black, who knew Otto well, comments to us, “One would be hard-pressed to argue that Otto was a feminist, but that having more to do with the times than his outlook. He was proud of creating her. He clearly knew what he was doing and was conscious of the importance of women superheroes.”
(Photo Credit: DC Comics)
While many of these superhero adventures tend to go in a dark direction, Supergirl as both a character and in the current Melissa Benoist CW TV series, provides a more hopeful balance. In fact, the TV show has been created and developed as a spiritual cousin to Richard Donner’s 1978 classic, Superman: The Movie, which introduced Christopher Reeve as the Man of Steel.
“Christopher Reeve let us see the everyman in Superman, and as a result we really related to him,” Supergirl executive producer Ali Adler pointed out at Comic-Con when the show launched. “Melissa brings that as well. She’s just so thrilling to watch. You put yourself in her position, you are her or you want to be her. As a result, we’re embracing the positivity of that world. We’re just trying to get out there this incredible personality that she has. It’s being vulnerable when you’re invincible. That was the challenge.”
And that was what drew Melissa, who had previously starred in the TV series Glee and to the triple role of Kara Zor-El/Supergirl/Kara Danvers (her Earth identity). “What I’ve found in playing her,” she explained at San Diego Comic-Con last year, “is that there’s this open, loving kind of attitude toward life in her. Just true, pure goodness. And she has the same kind of hope that Superman has. That is one of the keywords that came to mind when we were first shooting the pilot; I had to feel, almost internally, hopeful. And she doesn’t quit, so I definitely think she is a beacon of hope. It runs in the family.”
And it runs through the many interpretations of Supergirl on film, in animation, and in video games, as evident in the guide that follows.